PECKED TO DEATH BY DUCKS

The master of adventure writing (Road Fever, 1991; A Wolverine Is Eating My Leg, 1989, etc.) continues his spree with another collection of high-wire essays culled from National Geographic, Rolling Stone, etc. ``I have been in the business of giving people back their dreams,'' declares Cahill, who means to say that he does what others only dare to dream about. This collection starts with a bang—actually, a hellish sequence of eruptions—as Cahill wanders through the apocalyptic, burning landscape of postwar Kuwait: ``The whole world smelled like a diesel engine....The ground was black, the sky was black, the drifting clouds were black.'' This ominous note recurs in other essays, some of which describe moments of real fear: stalking a grizzly in Yellowstone; facing down a silverback gorilla in Africa; undertaking a hazardous ascent of El Capitan in Yosemite (``I thought, not for the first time, Why am I doing this?''). But Cahill is a wag as well as a risk-taker, and the laughs are many, whether at defecating in a latrine over a bat-filled abyss or at watching his shoes melt during the first day of a trek across Death Valley. Beauty, too, makes the danger worthwhile. Spelunking in Lechuguilla Cave, Cahill finds ``crystals the size of small trees, forests of aragonite flowers, huge-domed pits, rooms as high as thirty-story buildings.'' Paradise itself sometimes comes his way, usually in the form of isolated islands: Tonga, where he spaces out on kava, or Peru's Taquile, where everyone gets married on May 3rd. Other pieces cover falconry, ice fishing, paragliding, bungee jumping, and similar Tarzanish topics. Some rocks block his path—a piece on Elisabeth Clare Prophet is dull, another on cattle mutilation is tasteless. But who ever scaled a mountain without a few setbacks? Not up to Road Fever's turbo-charged standards but, still, manna for Cahill fans, who should be legion by now.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-679-40735-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 1992

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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